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‘Maradona had greatness in him but no sportsmanship’ – England legend Shilton can’t forgive ‘Hand of God’

3:49 PM IST 26/11/20
Diego Maradona Peter Shilton Hand of God 1986
The Three Lions goalkeeper and an Argentine icon never met to make their peace after an infamous incident at the 1986 World Cup finals in Mexico

Peter Shilton was "saddened" to learn of the death of Diego Maradona but remains vexed by the Argentina legend’s 'Hand of God' goal against England at the 1986 World Cup.

At the age of 60, Maradona died on Wednesday , leaving Argentina and the football world in shock.

Ill health and drug addiction had plagued the former Barcelona, Boca Juniors and Napoli star following his playing days, and he recently underwent surgery for a blood clot on his brain .

Tributes have been paid by the likes of Pele, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Shilton has more reason than most to feel a sense of antipathy towards Maradona, who punched the ball past him for Argentina's first goal in their 2-1 quarter-final win against England 34 years ago .

Shilton told the Daily Mail : "It has bothered me over the years. I won't lie about that now. People say I should have cleared the ball anyway and that I let a smaller man outjump me. That's rubbish. He had the run on me but that can happen.

"He wouldn't have punched it if he knew he could head it, would he? Of course not. So I am OK with all that.

"No, what I don't like is that he never apologised. Never at any stage did he say he had cheated and that he would like to say sorry. Instead, he used his 'Hand of God' line. That wasn't right.

"It seems he had greatness in him but sadly no sportsmanship."

Shilton tweeted on Thursday to describe Maradona as "the greatest footballer I ever played against without question", but he told the Daily Mail that attempts to unite him with Maradona over the years had come to nothing, having been given no assurances the little maestro intended to apologise.

And although England's goalscorer in that 1986 match, Gary Lineker, has spoken fondly of Maradona, Shilton suspects many in the team that lost out that day at the Estadio Azteca share his grievances.

He added: “Most of the England team who played in Mexico feel the way I do to this day.

“It wasn't just me who was cheated, it was the whole team. We had a chance of reaching the last four and maybe the final of the World Cup. How often does that happen?

“I was lucky. My chance came again four years later but others weren't that fortunate.”